Cream soup blog  

                                                                                Photo by Donna

Among the most exquisite foods are simplest foods.  Creamy soup, here celery root soup, is a great example.  I think we don’t make them even though they use the simplest of ingredients, don’t require chicken stock (or the travesty in a can masquerading as such), though you could certainly use chicken stock if you wished.  The above soup is simply celery root and milk, thickened with a little roux, and enriched with a splash of cream.  The velvet texture is the result of a fine mesh strainer (not strictly required to enjoy these soups but is the difference between a heavenly texture and an earthly texture).

What's also important to note is that this method can be used with just about any vegetable.  Beets, cauliflower, parsnips, potato, mushroom, sweet bell pepper.  Just about any green vegetable will work as well, though I prefer to use a light chicken stock for these.  These soups can be served hot or cold.  They can be made ahead and reheated.  Seasoning can vary—a dash of curry in a mushroom soup, Parmigiano-Regianno in a cauliflour soup.  Roast some cauliflower till it's well caramelized, and this soup and garnish become a great sauce for sauteed scallops, a la Jean Georges.  There's no end to what you can do when you have a little technique.  (The following recipe, is adapted from Ratio, where the technique is discussed in a little more depth.)

1-1/2 ounces flour (about 3 tablespoons)
1 ounce butter (2 tablespoon)
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 cups milk
1 pound celery root (or veg of your choice), 1/4 of it nicely diced, simmered or roasted till tender, cooled and reserved for garnish; the rest can be large diced or roughly chopped
3 ounces cream
salt to taste
fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar to taste
Serves 4

Lightly cook flour and butter in your soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for another minute or two.  Add the milk and simmer until it’s thickened, skimming any film that gathers on the surface.  Salt it to taste.  Add the chopped vegetable and cook gently until it’s tender, about fifteen minutes.  Puree the soup in a blender, taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary, strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pan or serving dish, add the cream, season with lemon juice as necessary.  Reheat the garnish in a microwave oven or in simmering water.  Divide the garnish among the bowls, then pour in the soup (reheated as necessary).

For the vegetable garnish: Vegetable garnish can be cooked and cooled ahead of time, or while your soup is cooking as you would normally cook the vegetable.  Most can be roasted or boiled, mushrooms and sweet bell peppers roasted or sautéed.


31 Wonderful responses to “Cream of Celery Root Soup”

  • carri

    You want to be a super dilligent stirrer once you’ve added the milk to the flour as the flour will cling to the bottom of the pan, but the hard work is rewarded…this is a delightful soup!

  • ruhlman

    Good point, Carri! Be sure to stir with a flat edged spoon. If you fear you’ve scorched the bottom, pour the soup into a new pan and continue to cook.

  • Richard

    I’m going to try the “peas and carrots” mentioned in Ratio tonight. My only concern is that the carrot royale sets.

  • corey

    this sounds so awesome, and fits nicely with my recent obsession with root veggies. thanks!

  • Jacqueline

    My new favorite tool is a silicone flat whisk perfect. Will Donna share her secret to making white food look appetizing – SO difficult!

    Celeriac is a highly underrated pleasure.

  • Sam

    I am getting celeriac in my CSA share later today… must be fate.

  • Natalie Sztern

    It is pouring rain with unseasonal low temps in montreal…and with an excess of cauliflower in the fridge this is precisely what i am going to make.

    Thankyou for the idea!

  • JoP in Omaha

    I’ve become a big fan of simplicity. Done right (attention to detail) with good ingredients, simplicity = elegance, as shown in the photo above. Thanks for your continued emphasis that good cooking need not be difficult.

  • Conway Yen

    This looks fantastic. I’ve got a celery root in my vegetable drawer at home and this post just made me make up my mind about what to do with it.

    I lent someone my immersion blender a while ago and just recently got it back. Needless to say, it’s like we’re long-lost lovers, finally reunited, so I’ve been pureeing the bejeezus out of everything in sight. Root vegetables beware! You’re all 5 seconds away from becoming my soup!

  • erik

    Ruhlman, would you care to link to your favorite fine mesh strainer? Is there a difference between fine mesh and a chinois?

  • S. Woody

    Let’s go a little crazy. Try some roasted beets, diced, in a basically white soup (such as leek and potato – which I’ve done several times – or the above cream of celery root). The beets bleed, of course, into the white soup, a comic splash of color invading the pristine pale with every dip of the spoon. Fresh chives and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds make a nice garnish.

  • Cassandra

    I’m stirring the cauliflower version right now – yum!!

  • Lisa

    What an amazing looking soup. Will try it this weekend. The photography is brilliant!!

  • ruhlman

    we’re still eatin root veg here in chilly clevelandtown! and it’s the photo i’m showing off here…

  • Natalie Sztern

    Currently reading the soft-cover Return to Cooking and I must say, that even though I am not too far in, I am pretty sure Donna could have photographed that book with much more class…altho it is still beautifully graphic…

    this thought comes purely from what I have seen on this blog…

    “On The Line” was shot beautifully

  • Adele

    I just don’t like cream soups, never have, but Donna’s picture is so fantastic that I could almost re-think my anti cream soup attitude.

  • crust

    Why not just thin out vegetable purees like Keller, why do you need the roux?

    Nevermind, I’ll do a test and see if there is a difference.

  • luis

    Basically, I am inspired. Why else would I tune in to this blog?.
    Soup in my kitchen will never ever come out of a can again!.
    Prepare the veg or vegs..
    puree them….
    strain them or not!.
    Season them well.
    Heat them up and thicken them up a bit with whatever a roux or a slurry or butter or cream… or try something new and molecular like Xantam Gum… or gelatine or other….Fresh veg soup is awesome… this is why the soup nazi guy was the GUY in the HOOD!!!!
    Keep it up Rhulman this is great stuff man.(Rhulman looks a little like the soup nazi, don’t he!

  • Lorrie

    This recipe is amazing! Mr. Ruhlman, if you are indeed an incarnation of the Soup Nazi, I would love to know your opinion (and recipe) of Mulligatawny. Apples or no apples? I quite prefer them.